Beatriz E. Ledesma: April 9th Was Her Birthday…

April 23rd, 2014

I don’t know how old she would have been today…maybe 85.

Twenty-plus years since she became air…

I am still seeing her; sensing her eyes gazing at me as I move through my world.

Sometimes she appears in dreams … like that time when she placed some coins in a chair and

I play a number based on those coins and I won $350.

Thank you Mom! More of those dreams please!

At times I sense her hands on my shoulders.

A friend of mine who reads auras used to tell me that her energy is blue

And when I have her hands over me, there is this blue glow on

My shoulders…

I don’t care if there is a rational explanation to that statement.

I like it so I decided to believe it.

Her hands are blue…blue like the color of water to our physical eyes…

Her hands waching our clothing and letting them dry in the open.

The sheets moved by the wind.

Olfactory memory of clothing dried in the open…

A memory of her touch…

Blue touch, perhaps?




Editor’s Note: Beatriz‘s last post for The Third City was Harvest

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Jim Siergey: Heart of (Acapulco) Gold

April 18th, 2014

I’ve long been a fan of Neil Young. Whoosh! There goes half my readership.

There is no inbetween with Neil Young. Folks either love him or hate him. To paraphrase Spike Lee, “It’s gotta be the voice.” I can see how that high-pitched nasal whine can raise some folks’ hackles but it doesn’t bother me. I’m also a fan of Bob Dylan and John Prine so perfect pitch and mellow vocal stylings, as pleasing as they are, are not a make or break deal with me.

The song is the thing.

I was a fan of Buffalo Springfield and I enjoyed much of the music created by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I dig what Neil has done in his solo work as well as his musical journeys with Crazy Horse.

One of my favorite concert memories is seeing him perform at the Auditorium Theatre in 1970. It was just him alone on stage trading off between his acoustic guitar and piano. For all you younger folks out there, if there are any that read this blog, that’s sometimes how performers performed back then—just themselves and their instruments. No dance choreography, special effects, incendiary devices or giant foam fingers accompanied them.

Somehow we withstood it.

I also admire Neil for his staunch environmentalism and his advocacy for small farmers. He helped found The Bridge School, an educational organization for children with severe verbal and physical disabilities. For years he has been tinkering with developing an energy efficient car. His interests and curiosity knows no bounds. He has refused to “sell out” by not allowing his songs to be used commercially. (See his scathing music video This Note’s For You which, ironically, has a lead-in advertisement tacked onto it by YouTube )

He has written books and directed films. I haven’t seen any of his films but I did recently read one of his books, “Waging Heavy Peace”. It was in the discount bin at a Barnes and Nobles store, $2.99 for a hardback copy. Hard to pass up.

neilyoungDown by the river…


It is written in a freewheeling style, the kind of book that you could open and begin reading anywhere but written in a very honest and open manner. One of the things I read in there has affected me in a surprising way.

Neil states that while writing the book he had not taken a toke or a drink for almost a year and in all that time he had also not written a new song. It had been the longest he had gone without writing a song and he wondered if being weed and alcohol-free had something to do with it because, he went on to say, he had never written a song without being high.

This statement took me aback. The guy has written hundreds, perhaps, thousands of songs. Not one of them was written in a non-drug or alcohol infused state? I find this hard to swallow, Last Trip to Tulsa, notwithstanding.

Now, I’m not naïve. I realize that many songs by many songwriters have been written while under the influence of drugs or drink. I know that many songs have been written while under other influences as well, i.e. ennui, depression, desperation, exhilaration,indigestion (Remember The T-Bones’ No Matter What Shape(Your Stomach’s In ) and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ Constipation Blues?) as well as the most popular tion-ending creative state of being — frustration, mostly of a sexual nature.

But Neil Young never wrote a song when he wasn’t high? He must have written that for affect, but to what effect? It’s infected me and I don’t understand why. Probably because anytime I tried writing or drawing anything while high, the result was unintentionally laughable. Maybe I just didn’t apply myself. Hmmm.

Hold on, I need to make a phone call.

(long pause)

Okay, I’m back. I was able to procure a thin tube of combustible herb, thanks to The Third City prop department. Just let me light this baby up so we can see how this experiment works out.

(longer pause)

I’ll be right with you. Just gotta steamroll this roach.

(very long pause)

Okay, I’m ready. Thanks for waiting. Let’s get this row on the shoad.



Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Maniac!

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Jim Siergey: Maniac!

April 11th, 2014

I am sometimes possessed with the desire to involve myself with things of no social or culturally redeeming value… such as writing for this blog. (Rim-shot!)

My latest venture into this morass was the viewing of a film from 1934 entitled MANIAC. And now, I’m going to tell you about it—and there’s nothing you can do to stop me! Bwah-ha-ha!

This exploitation flick has a little bit of everything; academic descriptions of various mental diseases, nudity, depravity, disjointed scenes, subplots that vanish but mostly, the most vivid display of over-acting that one could ever ask for. Holy pre-shades of Ed Wood!

The portrayer of the mad scientist (Horace B. Carpenter) goes so far over the top that he needs a step ladder and a set of encyclopedias to stand on. Imagine Jon Lovitz’s “Acting!”character magnified tenfold. Amusingly, at one point in the film he refers to the actor portraying his assistant as “a ham”.


jimsiergeymaniacStrange and startling, indeed…


Unfortunately, Carpenter’s character dies about a third of the way through the story. Perhaps he needed to make the most of his part while it existed by memorably chewing up all the scenery. Fortunately though, his meek assistant (who bears a resemblance to the main character in Eraserhead) adopts the guise of the mad scientist and begins to emote nearly as profusely as his predecessor. Over-emoting runs rampant in this photoplay as nary an actor appears that does not leave his or her mark. By the end of the movie, not only the scenery but the film stock itself is in shreds.

By the way, if you plan to view this bit of cinematic creakiness, be sure to have your reading glasses along because there are long stretches of verbiage describing different types of mental illnesses that are inserted onscreen throughout the movie.

An actress named Phyllis Diller (not the same one that we all know and love) portrays Mrs. Buckley, a woman who wishes to mind-control her maniac husband with the assistance of the fake mad scientist. Unfortunately, her husband (who has a great “going insane” scene after being accidentally injected with “super adrenaline”) kidnaps a young woman who was brought back from the dead by the real mad scientist and is never heard from again.

jimsiergeymaniac1Genius at work…


As you can imagine, it would be fruitless to attempt to describe a plot. There are several memorable lines. My favorites being “I may not be decent but I’m sure going to be clean.” It’s uttered by a young lady who is taking a bath. (This occurs during the apartment scene where a quartet of cuties cavort in their lingerie and various stages of undress.) Another favorite line of dialogue is “The cats eat the rats, the rats eat the cats and I get the skins.” This is spoken by the entrepreneurial neighbor of the mad scientist.

There are a couple of disturbing scenes in this movie but, otherwise, it’s one hilarious moment after the other. Sensibilities be damned—see this flick! It’ll take less than an hour out of your life and you must have some time to waste, you read this blog post, didn’t you?


Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The third City was Happy Hunting

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Jim Siergey: Happy Hunting

April 3rd, 2014

I’ve been on a hunting expedition.

I didn’t expect to be on one, but I am. If I had known, I’d have better equipped myself. I’d have secured a pith helmet, safari shirt with matching shorts and a rifle as well as a faithful companion and guide who would call me B’wana.

I daresay that those items would have been easier to procure than the item I am hunting for, which is…shoe laces.

Shoe laces? Yes, that taken for granted set of strings used to lace up one’s footwear. These articles themselves are not all that difficult to track down but the acquisition of a particular type of shoe lace has turned out to be an arduous task.

What began as a simple errand has turned into a mission.

Traditional shoe laces were made of leather, cotton, jute and hemp but modern laces are constructed of various synthetic fibers. This makes them more slippery and prone to becoming undone. These are the round or “tubed” laces that are prevalent in today’s shoes.

I am looking for the flat ones, also called “fat laces”. They are more secure and tend to hold a knot much better than the slick round ones. When I’m perambulating around, I don’t want to worry about any possible unravelment that may be taking place below my ankles.

I have enough unravelment going on above my shoulders.


Bob Hope


I stopped at a Jewel-Osco store. It’s a large place of business that carries many different types of products. To my disappointment, they had a very meager offering of shoe laces and all were of the round variety. With my nose upturned I exited the establishment and made my way to a Walgreens.

The selection at this retail chain was a bit more impressive. In fact, they had just what I was looking for— a pair of 45 inch flat laces! The catch was that they were grey. My shoes are black. I purchased them anyway.

At home I removed the precariously unreliable round laces and threaded the new grey ones into my shoes. I expected the shade of these grey laces to be dark but they are not. They are the lightest shade of grey imaginable. At first I thought the tonal difference of light grey against black looked rather dramatic but upon further reflection, it looked more like I was wearing clown shoes.

Despite their appearance, I have kept them in because my shod feet feel more secure with these firm laces. I ventured out once more, this time to a nearby CVS store. Their vast shoe lace display put the other stores to shame. Shoe laces of many colors and sizes were offered but, alas, every single one of them was round.

There’s a shoe repair shop not far from me. I’ll be entering their place of business soon. If I strike out there, I suppose I can hit the shoe stores. If those ventures prove to be unsuccessful I may end up having to make my own damn shoe laces.

Does anyone know where can I lay my hands on some jute?


Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Morning Ritual

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Matt Farmer: Rahm and Redford

March 30th, 2014

A week’s worth of tweets from the great Chairman Matt@mifarmer


BP continues to give back to the communities in which it operates. On Monday, BP donated hundreds of gallons of oil to Lake Michigan.


BP said its recent release of oil into Lake Michigan poses no threat to the lake’s Asian carp or to TV coverage of Rahm’s next Polar Plunge.


It’ll be #1 seed Florida over #4 seed UCLA tonight on CBS and #2 seed Emanuel Infomercial over #11 seed Journalism on @CNN. #Chicagoland


Rahm/Redford now negotiating with @msnbc for “Lockup: Chicago,” which will feature the tough but caring mayor helping inmates. #Chicagoland


CNN: The Most Trusted Name In Rahm Emanuel Infomercials. #Chicagoland


Looks like Robert Redford wisely deleted the footage of Rahm conducting a seance in an effort to communicate with Bobby Hull. #Chicagoland


Rahm now hanging a brown commemorative sign renaming two-block stretch of LaSalle Street the “Honorary CNN/Robert Redford Way.” #Chicagoland



Rahm to teachers: You’re guilty — of something…


Mayor Emanuel said today that his behind-the-scenes work to make last month the ninth coldest February in Chicago history reduced homicides.


Bitcoin upgrades Chicago’s economic status, noting that “the city, like Bitcoin, appears comfortable operating with imaginary money.”


Mark Sanchez agrees to a deal with the Eagles. Sources say he’ll likely serve as a backup to Joe Walsh, who is now 66 years old.


CPS plans to “turnaround” all office furniture at its downtown HQ and replace it with $9.5M worth of younger, lighter furniture. #cpsboard


Without Rahm’s longer school day, how would CPS Law Department investigators have enough time to interrogate kids who opted out of the ISAT?


In connection with its ongoing interrogation of ISAT opt-outs, CPS wants all copies of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” removed from schools.


Emanuel says city will provide CPS high school students with free condoms, but he’s still on the fence about P.E., art, music and libraries.


Chicago Board of Ed gives CPS central office $9.5M to buy new furniture from Staples. CPS teachers are lucky to get staples and staplers.


GOP candidate Bruce Rauner vows to take back Illinois from powerful labor interests like the Northwestern University football team.


Editor’s Note: Matt‘s last post for The Third City was Primary Tweets

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Jim Siergey: Morning Ritual

March 28th, 2014

Her bathrobe hung on the doorknob of her closet but it was too much effort for Louisa to arise from bed and walk over.  She sighed deeply, rolled off of her Sealy Posturepedic® and slid, entangled in her bedsheets, to the floor and slowly crawled over to her awaiting robe.

It was a pink crinoline number with teeny yellow bows trimming it and pastel blue hearts interwoven through the body of the fabric.  She tugged the dainty coverup from the doorknob and laid it out on the floor.

She slipped one arm through a sleeve and flipped onto her back, her free arm seeking and finding the vacant sleeve hole, then rolled over, cinching the sash at her waist in one fluid motion as she stood in admiration of her acrobatic feat of dressing herself.


Lookin’ good (illustration by Mr. Siergey!)…


With a toss of her leafy pink hair, she spun to face her bookless bookcase and snatched with her teeth a mentholated cigarette laying on the edge of the eye level shelf.

“Some day”, she thought to herself as she fumbled in the pockets of her robe for a match, “I will get some books.”

“But, then” her thought waves continued as her slender fingers found their sulphuric prey, removed one from her pocket and lit it by striking it across the sole of her foot, “where will I keep my cigarettes?”


Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Embarrassing Moments…

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Grabowski: Birthday Surprise

March 24th, 2014

My wife started pressing me over the summer for where I wanted to go for my 40 birthday in December.

“How about an African Safari like you’ve brought up a few times?” She asked one day, adding, “Since it will be winter we should go somewhere warm, how about Puerto Rico?”

The problem in my mind was that everywhere I really wanted to go wouldn’t make sense in the winter: a week long white water rafting camping trip in the Pacific Northwest, a bike tour from Krakow to the Baltic Sea, etc.

“I really have no desire to go anywhere for my birthday, I just want to celebrate here in Chicago,” I finally told her.

To relive my youth, my vision was to find an early 90s-era underground abandoned warehouse party.

One where people were carrying around stuffed animals and sucking on pacifiers, DJs spinning in different rooms, some kids smoking crack on the fire escape, and where the lights and music shut off occasionally because the generators ran out of gas.

After much research, including joining a Facebook Group called “Chicago Rave Syndicate” where the average member age was about 18, I found several possible parties on my actual birthday.

The most interesting-sounding one was a local Burning Man gathering, so I bought us tickets and told all my friends to do the same. I had it all figured out and I was satisfied and relieved.

Then one Thursday night a couple weeks before my birthday, my wife said my present had arrived early and it was perishable so I better open it that night, but to read the card out loud first:


“Your birthday is a big deal because you are entering a new decade. Happy 40th! So go pack your suitcase because we are leaving tomorrow morning on a birthday trip to celebrate you! Love, Kathryn.”


He thought he’d be vacationing with the Birdman…


I was in complete disbelief, denial and awe, and it took 10 minutes for her to convince me that it was not a joke.

I had never been surprised with anything before, nor had I ever taken a spontaneous trip, and in general I would not be described as a spontaneous person. I usually like to warm up to the idea going on vacation, on a particular date, plan it all out ahead of time, and tie off loose ends at work before I leave.

We had never even gotten a baby sitter for our nine-month-old daughter, but my wife arranged for our day care to watch her for three days and nights.

I boarded the plane without knowing the destination.

We passed a lot of Asians on the way to our seats, and a guy with an Oakland A’s hat.


Instead, it was more like this…


“Are we going to San Francisco?” I asked.

She wouldn’t say, but it turned out I was right.

When we landed she told me we had tickets to Alcatraz the next day. I acted somewhat exited even though I thought it was a bit random. I wondered what else she might have planned, and I hoped we were also going to that quaint Italian joint we went to once with the tasty pimento cheese stuffed pepper in cream of tomato sauce.

Waiting for our baggage I called my parents and told them the news, and that we wouldn’t be at their house for the birthday dinner they were having for my brother and me the next night.

“Wear a jacket on Alcatraz, its cold and windy there,” my mom warned.

I soon learned that my wife’s Alcatraz statement was meant to throw me off. Next thing I knew, we were on the highway headed to Napa where we drank fine wine in storybook settings and ate local food for the next two days.

She surprised me again when some friends who live in San Fran met us at a vineyard we were tasting at.

It was refreshing not to have to have thought about any trip planning, and just go and enjoy.

My wife really outdid herself, she thought of every last detail, for an incredible surprise birthday trip.

And she set the bar for her 40th.

But at least I have 18 months to plan for it.


Editor’s Note: Grabowski’s last post for The Third City was Eating Pie

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